EDU.lab stokes passion for technology

EDU.lab stokes passion for technology

Inspiring primary and secondary schoolchildren and stoking their passion for technology is the goal of EDU.lab, a mobile laboratory that Škoda brings to young people.

7. 11. 2023 Škoda World

“Fifty million... a billion... three million...” shout the eighth-graders at a primary school in Liberec, who are currently being given a tour of the mobile educational laboratory EDU.Lab. The children are guessing how many cars Škoda produces a year. “Something around a million,” they finally agree, picking the answer that is closest to reality (731,000 cars delivered in 2022). The instructor then continues to show them the special semi-trailer that has been touring the Czech Republic and Slovakia since 2021.

EDU.lab will visit every Czech region and numerous locations in Slovakia by the end of 2025.

The laboratory is mainly aimed at pupils in the seventh, eighth and ninth years of primary schools and the third and fourth years of secondary vocational schools and grammar schools. But everyone has the chance to see it – each stop usually comprises four pre-booked slots per day for visits by pupils from specific schools and one afternoon slot for curious members of the general public. In total, the aim is to reach tens of thousands of schoolchildren over the course of the programme and to create enthusiasm for technology. “It’s important for us to get pupils to go to technical colleges. We are not looking to promote any particular university, merely to generate a general interest in technical education,” says lecturer Tadeáš Salaba, who guides the schoolchildren around the mobile laboratory.

Visitors can also see demonstrations of modelling technologies and the use of AI to assist creative processes.

EDU.lab facts and figures

The roadshow runs for 90 days a year
10,000 schoolchildren per year
4 slots for schools and 1 for the public per day
Primarily for children at primary and secondary schools, but also for vocational and other technical schools
The area of the lab’s interior is 62 m2

3D printing, robots and virtual reality

The kinds of technology the children know about and find interesting become clear during their tours of the laboratory. For example, they are usually good at estimating the range of electric cars. Many are surprised, though, by the fact that the Scania tractor unit that drives EDU.Lab around the country can travel up to four thousand kilometres on its full tanks. Secondary school pupils in particular have no problem calculating how long it would take to charge an electric car by pedalling an exercise bike, which is also part of the exhibition.

3D printing in action

The interest in the various technologies showcased by EDU.lab is also varied (see box). Some are enthusiastic about 3D printing, others about collaborative robots, but perhaps the biggest attraction is augmented reality, and especially the opportunity to try out painting bodywork parts in virtual reality. The pupils agree that it’s a fun experience and feels like a computer game. This gives an insight into what path technical education in general should take.

Painting in virtual reality

Innovation as a gateway to the world

“If children can touch and try out something, that’s the best way to engage them. And it’s a longer-lasting experience,” says Vítězslav Pěnička, a physics teacher at a grammar school in Liberec. Of his group of twenty-five children, four are said to be interested in going to a technical university. “That’s not a bad number for a grammar school,” says the physics teacher. He doesn’t think that EDU.Lab will convince anyone to study engineering there and then, but it can have an effect, he says. “It can tip the scales when children are deciding what kind of further education to go for,” Pěnička adds.

He adds that it’s also important that the lab can inform students about the opportunities offered by the car company itself. EDU.Lab not only showcases the technologies of the future, but also the technologies Škoda is already using today. “For many pupils, the prospect of employment is important, even in terms of where they can work. The young generation has ambitions to work abroad for at least some time, and Škoda can offer them this opportunity thanks to its connection with Volkswagen Group,” says Pěnička.

EDU.Lab and the story of car production

The lab shows visitors what technologies they can come into contact with at Škoda and what experiences they can expect at the Czech carmaker. The first room is dedicated to a discussion about AI and cyber security, but visitors also get a brief introduction to the car company itself. The main room is divided into four main sections that focus on planning and creativity, teamwork, production and finally prototype creation. Visitors get to see demonstrations of modelling technologies and the use of AI as an assistant in creative processes; they can try out bodywork parts painting in VR; they see how collaborative robots work and how augmented reality or thermal imaging can be used; and they learn about 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies. Outside, they will find a pair of exercise bikes, so they can compete against each other while also learning what how much energy they can generate. There are also interactive screens with games and educational programmes about the car industry. And they can get a detailed look at both the Škoda Enyaq electric car and the tractor unit that transports the lab from place to place. Škoda dispatches its EDU.lab to schools, town squares and various events and trade fairs where large numbers of young people are expected. The aim is to visit every region in the Czech Republic and selected locations in Slovakia by the end of 2025 (where the truck has visited Košice, Poprad, Bánská Bystrica and Trnava this year).

Media Box

17 images
Show more Show less